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Goff conveys concerns on butter to EU

Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Trade

17 July 2006
Media statement

Goff conveys concerns on butter to EU

Trade Minister Phil Goff today called European Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel to express New Zealand's strong concerns about the suspension of dairy trade with the European Union.

"I said New Zealand believed that the trade should not have been suspended. The changes required by the European Court of Justice could have been dealt with without disrupting trade. If the disruption continued for any length of time, this would damage New Zealand's market for butter, and ran contrary to the agreement reached in 1995 between us and the European Communities in the WTO.

"Applying the suspension with retrospective effect was also contrary to the legitimate expectations of New Zealand dairy exporters, and to good legal practice.

"The Commissioner argued in response that the European Commission believed it had to suspend the trade with immediate effect in order to implement the ECJ ruling.

"However, she did undertake that the Commission would 'work at high speed and find solutions as soon as possible'. Because of the complexity of the issues, however, she believed that the matter could take several months to resolve.

"She noted that the Commission had not wanted this outcome, and had opposed the challenge to the regulations before the Court.

"She also undertook to work closely with New Zealand in an open and transparent process to find a solution.

"The Commissioner cautioned, however, that she had to be accountable to EU Member States and other parties in implementing the European Court of Justice decision.

"She undertook to stay in touch, and to instruct officials to work with the New Zealand Embassy in Brussels towards an agreed solution," Mr Goff said.


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